Both aromatic members of the allium family, scallions and shallots are staples in so many diverse types of cuisine. However, it can be somewhat difficult to distinguish between the two, especially for those who are new to the kitchen.
What is the difference between scallions and shallots? To begin, the manner in which they are harvested differs greatly. Scallions, also referred to as green onions, are simply immature bulbs that are harvested before an onion is fully formed, while shallots are fully matured onions that grow as bulbs and, much like garlic, are divided into cloves.
If you read on, you’ll find out the main differences between scallions and shallots, as well as how to cook with each one and what recipes they work best in.
We’ll also answer some common questions that people have when it comes to differentiating between scallions and shallots and using them in your cooking.
Identifying Scallions Vs Shallots
Scallions and shallots have quite a distinct look, making it easy to tell them apart. Let’s start with scallions:
What do scallions look like?
Scallions, sometimes referred to as green onions, are thin, long tubes that gradually change in color from green to white.
They are often sold in bunches, and the white end of the stem has a visible root system. Scallions are similar in appearance to chives and spring onions, but you won’t mistake them for shallots.
What do shallots look like?
In contrast, shallots are small, bulb-like onions that grow in clusters. They have a distinct tapered shape that sets them apart from the rest of the onion family.
They usually have a brown or copper-colored papery skin (that you peel off, just like with an onion) with purple-hued inner layers.
Cooking with Scallions Vs Shallots
Though both scallions and shallots come from the same family of vegetables, they have distinct flavors and are utilized in different dishes, though they can sometimes be used in the same dish.
They both have a strong, aromatic taste that characterizes all alliums, including garlic and onions. However, that doesn’t mean that you can use one in place of the other.
While scallions have a milder flavor, shallots are much stronger and more garlicky. The green part of a scallion can even have a grassy flavor.
Shallots, on the other hand, offer quite a bit of a bite before they are cooked, and when caramelized, much like an onion, their natural sweetness is highlighted.
The Best Way to Cook Scallions
Scallions, just like shallots, can either be cooked or served raw. When served raw, they are often used as a garnish for salads, soups, or cooked meats and fish.
When it comes to cooking them, they are delicious grilled, roasted, or sauteed.
Scallions are a staple ingredient in a variety of recipes, perhaps the most well-known of them being scallion pancakes.
They are most often used in Asian cuisine, and can be frequently found in stir fries, noodle bowls, and fried rice. On top of this, they are quite often used as a final garnish on a dish.
Scallions are also delicious grilled and can be served on their own or even be paired with a bit of lemon and parmesan.
Consider adding scallions to your homemade onion dip (we promise, you won’t regret it).
Scallion cream cheese is also a delicious bagel topping, perfectly paired with smoked salmon for bagels and lox.
If you’re looking for unique ways to cook with scallions, consider trying cheesy grits with scallions and jammy eggs or grilling them with cauliflower steaks.
If you have lots of scallions on hand, toss them in your salads, and not just with lettuce!
The Best Way to Cook Shallots
Shallots are quite often included in sauces, meaning that they are with diced thin and served raw or sauteed with other ingredients.
However, they are delicious when caramelized and added to dishes and can even be roasted or braised whole.
Shallots are an incredibly versatile ingredient that’s just as valuable raw as they are cooked.
They are a staple ingredient in many vinaigrette dressings and can be used to add a bit of bite to salads. When served on their own, shallots can be slow-roasted, glazed, pickled, caramelized, and prepared practically any way you could imagine.
Shallots are also a key element in classic French cuisine. You can find them in the essential French Béarnaise sauce, French string beans with shallots, or even French shallot soup. Additionally, shallot sauce is quite often served with steak.
If you don’t know what to do with all of your shallots, caramelize them and add them to tomato sauce to add a touch of sweetness, or mix with Greek yogurt for an easy shallot dip. When cooking with shallots, your opportunities are endless!
Scallions Vs Shallots: Health Benefits
Foods from the allium family (which includes shallots, scallions, onions, spring onions, green onions, garlic, and more) offer a wide variety of health benefits.
They have antioxidant, antiviral, and antibiotic properties, all of which can offer protection against a variety of health issues.
Health Benefits of Scallions:
- Scallions contain an impressive amount of fiber, which is essential for your digestive system, along with high concentrations of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and folate.
- They are packed with phytonutrients, such as antioxidants, that help fight cancer and inflammation.
Health Benefits of Shallots:
- Shallots also offer the important presence of antioxidants, which are crucial in protecting against a variety of health conditions.
- Their concentration of essential minerals, such as iron and copper, can help to improve circulation and metabolism function.
Nutritional Value of Scallions Vs Shallots
Both scallions and shallots are very healthy foods with low fat and carbohydrate content and high concentrations of minerals and nutrients. Read on to see a side-by-side comparison of the nutritional value of scallions and shallots:
Which Are Healthier: Shallots or Scallions?
As you can see, both shallots and scallions are incredibly healthy foods. While shallots have more calories and carbohydrates than scallions, they also offer higher levels of protein and potassium.
On the other hand, scallions are richer in certain vitamins and minerals than shallots are, as they offer higher levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron.
In the end, shallots and scallions, along with all other members of the broad allium family, are incredibly healthy foods, each one offering their unique nutritional benefits.
Including both of them in your diet on a regular basis can have positive impacts on your overall health.
What are alliums?
We’ve talked a lot about alliums in this article, and that’s because both scallions and shallots are members of the allium family.
In simple terms, alliums are a family of flowering plants that include common vegetables such as onions, garlic, leeks, chives, and, of course, scallions and shallots.
Their high concentration of beneficial sulfur is what gives them their strong and distinct flavor and taste and makes them a favorite ingredient in such a wide variety of cuisines.
Can you replace scallions with shallots in a recipe and vice versa?
Though they do come from the same family of vegetables, scallions and shallots offer distinct flavors and textures that cannot easily be swapped out in recipes.
Especially when using them raw, shallots have much of a stronger bite than scallions, so if you use scallions in their place, your dish or sauce may lack the strength that shallots offer.
When cooking them in some way, the substitution may be somewhat more forgiving. Though both are delicious when sauteed or cooked slowly, shallots, when caramelized, for example, add a sweetness to your dish that scallions may not be able to replicate.
A better replacement for scallions, for example, would be green or spring onions, as they are harvested in a very similar manner.
When it comes to replacing shallots, we recommend turning to another member of the allium family, such as onions, as they offer a more similar texture and taste to shallots than scallions do.